Architecture Tour on the Chicago River

Our first day in Chicago was exciting, fast-paced and eventually- totally exhausting. After a red eye flight, no sleep and 9 hours of exploring Chicago on foot it was pure bliss to be able to sit down for 90 minutes and just relax and enjoy the sights.

We had opted to get the Go Chicago card for most of our activities for our 3 days in Chicago. With this pass you can go on one boat tour a day. We went on the 90 minute Architecture Tour with Shoreline Sightseeing. The starting location was conveniently located a few blocks from our hotel; under the Michigan Avenue Bridge. There was a bar on-board with snack and drinks and the tour guide was friendly and entertaining. The Architecture Tour on the Chicago River turned out to be one of our favorite activities. It was nice to rest our weary feet and we saw parts of the city we wouldn’t have otherwise.

Tall black skyscraper is the Sears Tower (Willis Tower)

Willis Tower & 311 South Wacker Street 

In 2009 the Sears Tower (black building above) was officially renamed the Willis Tower, although you will find many people still calling it by it’s former name. The tower is 108 stories tall and 1,451 feet. It was the tallest building in the world for almost 25 years and is now the 9th tallest in the world and 2nd tallest in the Western Hemisphere (the tallest is the newly finished One World Trade Center in NYC).

The red building with the circular top in front of the Willis Tower is known only by it’s address: 311 S. Wacker. The top is illuminated at night and can even change colors.

Tribune Tower

This neo-gothic building was complete in 1925 and houses the Chicago Tribune newspaper. The building was also on the 3rd Transformers movie (apparently A LOT of the buildings on this tour were featured in Transformers 3 or Dark Knight).

Tribune Tower
Chicago Merchandise Market

This building is truly MASSIVE. It has over 4 million square feet and use to have it’s own zip code!

Chicago Merchandise Market

2 North Riverside Plaza 

This is an art deco style skyscraper that was finished in 1929 and was known as the Chicago Daily News Building until the paper closed in the 1970s. I’m not sure what is currently in the building, only that it has recently undergone some renovations and it was once at risk for being destroyed because it’s not deemed a historical building.
2 North Riverside Plaza

Carbide and Carbon Building

This is another Art Deco style building. It has a gold top, which was designed to make it look like a champagne bottle with a foil top. This building is a designated landmark in Chicago and houses the Hard Rock Chicago Hotel.

The Carbide & Carbon Building has a gold covered top and may have been designed to look like a champagne bottle with a foil top.

Chicago Architecture Cruise

can’t recall the names of these buildings


Chicago Architecture Cruise

Moss covered building on the Chicago River

Chicago River Cruise

Residential place on the Chicago River

Old Chicago Main Post Office

Also known as the Gotham National Bank AND the Gotham Police Department (yes, Dark Knight reference). It is now an abandoned building.

Old Chicago Main Post Office

Chicago River Architecture Cruise

Skyscraper View from the Chicago River

Chicago Skyline from Lake Michigan

The tour boat briefly went out onto Lake Michigan, offering great views of the city skyline. I recall that there are some tours that actually depart from Navy Pier, so you may be able to get more time out on Lake Michigan.

Chicago Skyline

Have you been to the Windy City? If so, what was your favorite thing to do there? 


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